The TV Executive
Patricia Perini is the vice president of programming at KERA-TV. And anyone who knows anything about the tumultuous history of the station will agree that it’s amazing that she’s stayed with it for 15 years.
KERA-TV has one of the finest reputations in the country, but it’s not one of the most profitable places to work because, as a public station, it relies exclusively on individual and corporate donations, federal monies and foundation grants-not advertising revenues. Perini began with KERA-TV as its public information officer and learned programming through hands-on experience. She doesn’t deny that she’s been made lucrative offers in other media markets, but she wants to stay in Dallas.
Some might call Perini, 40, a survivor because she kept her job throughout the most difficult period during the station’s evolution. In early 1982 current president Dr. Richard Meyer swept into Dallas and cut all local programming and about 25 employees in an emergency effort to curtail the station’s money loss. Perini had several special projects in the works at the time, and it has only been during the past several months that she’s been able to brush the dust from the folders and shed some light on projects that promise to be some of the most exciting and grandiose that KERA-TV has ever don
One of her pet projects is due for national airing during the Texas Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1986. The West of the Imagination is a series of six one-hour programs that examines the history and myths of the West through the work of artists, photographers and cin-ematographers. At an estimated cost of $2.5 million, it will be the most expensive undertaking for KERA and Perini to date.
Perini says that her work at KERA is “all-consuming” but that she still finds time to participate in groups such as Leadership Dallas, Leadership Texas, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Board of Trustees for the Greenhill School and the Advisory Committee of Arts Magnet High School. In that sense, Perini describes herself as a “fox” rather than a “hedgehog” (referring to the Aesop fable in which the fox dabbles in everything, as opposed to the hedgehog who burrows into only one thing).
Unlike many people in the media, Perini has retained an altruistic approach to her work: “It’s exciting dealing with new programs and ideas all the time and it’s the idea of serving the community. There have been other opportunities for me-but in the end, Dallas has had all the elements.”
Did you ever wonder while you were strolling through Highland Park Village, the Galleria or the Plaza of the Americas who was responsible for attracting some of the posh European retailers to Dallas? More often than not, you’d be correct if you give the credit to Kenneth Hughes.
Hughes, who began his career in retail and office development with Henry S. Miller Co. during the early Seventies, now owns his own retail and office development company: Kenneth H. Hughes Interests. His clients have included Courreges, Yves St. Laurent/Rive Gauche, Fred Joaillier, Elizabeth Arden and Les Must de Cartier.
It appears that the French have the most to offer in terms of new retailers, Hughes says, but it’s important not to have too much of a good thing. “We’re spending time constantly reanalyzing the market to see where the holes are. There are lots of retail categories that are not touched, and if they are touched, they aren’t done well. Our tendency is to go out to wherever we have to go-whether it’s Europe or the United States or the Orient-to find the best operators and bring them back to this city.”
He says the opportunities for couture fashion and high-quality jewelry is still strong. “Dallas is just hard to explain. It’s really one of the most incredible buying markets in the world.”
Completing the joint purchase of the Quadrangle in Oak Lawn has taken up much of Hughes’ time and imagination. The unusual retail complex has been plagued by poor retail development and a layout that’s confusing to customers. Hughes hopes to develop a “town square” image by constructing new buildings closer to the street to emphasize a pedestrian lifestyle like that of the neighborhood. He says that by adding a dry-cleaning business or a takeout delicatessen and putting the parking underground, the center’s image could also improve.
The project at 3311 Oak Lawn is another Hughes development that mixes “high- end” retail with office space and wraps it in European-style architecture that includes a garden court, a 27-foot-tall drive-through to valet parking and the permanent display of a Tom Wesselman sculpture. Hughes Interests is also working on a $30 million mixed-use project in Bedford, a $25 million joint venture in Tulsa and a renovation project at Preston Center that will feature Grecian architectur
Hughes says he’s not interested in expanding his young company too rapidly; he’s content to first focus on quality. “In the long term, I would like to do more mixed-use development where we’re able to control the context of the area to the extent that we can see a stronger pedestrian condition. Those are the sorts of things that make the city more appealing. You have to have that kind of feeling so people feel like they are truly in an international city.”
The first T.G.I. Friday’s opened in 1965 in Manhattan at First Avenue and 63rd Street, but it’s been 12 years since Dan Scoggin opened the first T.G.I. Friday’s theme restaurant in Dallas. During those years, neither he nor any of the other employees of the burgeoning chain have talked to the media about the business and management, nor have they ever spent a dollar advertising it.
Sound unusual? It is when you think that TGI Friday’s Inc. was admitted to the New York Stock Exchange in December 1983 and now represents 90 of the highest-volume restaurants in the nation. Much of Friday’s success is attributed to Scoggin and his method of managing the restaurants. That means making customers feel welcome, offering the freshest foods and responding to fickle American appetites with lightning-quick effort
It’s common. Scoggin says. to change Friday’s menus every six months. In fact, it’s one the keys to avoiding seasonal lags. Light pasta is popular now, as are fresh vegetables. Scoggin says it’s important to offer a “palate range” at Friday’s that runs from light to heavy and to change the palate range from season to season.
Whenever there’s a lag at one of the restaurants, Scoggin calls the manager to find out why. That’s how he developed his “four walls” philosophy and the affectionate title of “the gray-haired philosopher” that his employees have given him. His theory says that the success of a restaurant depends on what happens inside the restaurant, not external factors such as the weather or a restaurant locatio
Despite Friday’s success, Scoggin, 46, isn’t about to sit back and let the restaurants run themselves. The company will open at least 20 more Friday’s restaurants by the end of the year. More Dalts and Fast Friday’s restaurants are planned for 1985, and the company plans to eventually expand to Europe. “I believe in working smarter, not harder,” he says.